[EDITORIALS]More dubious assertionsIt was inappropriate for Lee Hun-jai, the deputy prime minister and minister for economic affairs, to comment on President Roh Moo-hyun’s impeachment at a recent news conference. Mr. Lee told journalists that he thought alleged mismanagement of economy policy should not have been included as a reason for the president’s impeachment. The management of economic policy cannot be subject to judicial judgment, Mr. Lee said. He also evaluated the Roh government as having done fairly well despite difficulties during the past year.
We agree that it is undesirable to demand legal responsibility from economic policymakers based solely on the results. Economic policies are a question of making the best choices under the given circumstances. A court here has ruled that economic policies are not subject to judicial review after a lawsuit demanded compensation for losses during the 1997-98 economic crisis.
But Mr. Lee should not have commented on a case before the Constitutional Court. Whether mishandling of economy policies is a reason for impeachment is for the court to decide. With the impeachment trial under way and the legislative elections around the corner, it is not for the economy minister to make that decision publicly.
Moreover, the circumstances that led to Mr. Lee making his comments were strange. He was answering a question from a journalist, but it appears that ministry staffers had planted the question. The ministry claimed that it was merely trying to coordinate questions that journalists would ask, but the financial newspaper for which the journalist works said he had been pressured to ask it.
Why was Mr. Lee so anxious to comment at this time? It is being rumored that once the legislative elections is over and President Roh presumably returns to office, there will be a general bloodletting based on positions taken or not taken during the impeachment process.
We do not want to think that Mr. Lee made his comments with his survival in office in mind. That is why he should be more prudent in the future. No one should take any action that might influence the Constitutional Court’s decision on the impeachment. The proper thing is sit still and wait for the court to make its decision on its own.